Although Windermere Real Estate President OB Jacobi officially received his real estate license in 1989, he’s been working at the Seattle-based firm since he was a kid.
“My dad started the company in 1972 and he would have me and my sisters answer phones, sweep the sidewalks, clean the office, etc.,” says Jacobi. “After I became licensed, I worked every type of job, from sales to property manager, office manager, franchise owner, and now, executive leadership.”
As president of the company, Jacobi has found the real estate business to be both incredibly challenging, yet rewarding at the same time.
“You constantly have to evolve in order to stay ahead,” he says. “I love the entrepreneurial aspect and the opportunities it provides both our agents and our franchise owners, who treat this like the real profession that it is.”
Reflecting on 2016, Jacobi notes booming markets in cities up and down the West Coast where Windermere has offices, but these markets are also plagued by extremely low inventory levels.
“In Seattle, where we’re headquartered, we’ve increased migration to the area from other parts of the country due to our strong economy and employment opportunities, which have added pressure to our already highly competitive housing market,” says Jacobi. “So, while sales are very strong, inventory is limiting the housing market’s full potential in several of our markets. That being said, our agents are outperforming prior years.”
The average GCI for Windermere’s entire 6,000 agent-network is currently $142,000, an annual increase of 11 percent, and well above the national average.
Jacobi takes great pride in the Windermere culture, and believes its core values—relationships, professionalism, collaboration and community—are what separate the firm from others.
“Every decision we make as an organization is driven by those core values,” says Jacobi. “Something else we often hear from our agents and franchise owners is that we’re a bottom-up company, not top-down,” he adds. “In fact, many of Windermere’s best and most successful ideas for programs and services have come from our agents.”
One example is the firm’s new W Collection, an ultra-luxury program that was recently launched.
“The idea resulted from a group of Seattle-area agents who specialize in the upper-tier luxury market saying that we needed a marketing program for the ultra-high end,” Jacobi says. “We hired an outside consulting firm/agency and spent a year building the W Collection brand with input from our agents every step of the way.”
In terms of training, back in 2011, the firm adopted the Ninja Selling principals and established the Windermere Ninja Installation program. Since then, over 3,500 Windermere agents have completed the program, which teaches agents how to create a sustainable, thriving business in every kind of market, with every kind of client.
“We place a high priority on education, so our Windermere Professional Development division offers a variety of courses designed to educate our agents on every facet of the business and all types of client demographics,” says Jacobi. “We also provide our agents with cutting-edge technology, like our TouchCMA program, to meet the expectations of the growing number of tech-savvy consumers.”
Community is also one of the firm’s core values, and an integral part of the company.
“Every Windermere agent donates a portion of every commission to the Windermere Foundation,” says Jacobi. “By doing so, we’ve been able to raise more than $32 million to support low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.”
Vitals: Windermere Real Estate
Years in Business: 45
Size: 300 offices, 6,000+ agents
Regions Served: Western U.S., including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Mexico
2015 Sales Volume: $31.7 billion
2015 Transactions: 86,000
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